Dressing up empty shops in King Street

NEW VISION ... a former butchers' shop has had a makeover.
NEW VISION ... a former butchers' shop has had a makeover.

VIRTUAL shopping is on the rise again in King Street.

In a bid to make the struggling shopping thoroughfare appear busier, the council decided to make use of vinyl window dressing to decorate empty shopfronts.

The exercise is also an attempt to promote South Shields 365 – a £100m masterplan to regenerate the town.

The first shop premises to undergo a make-over was the former Stead and Simpson shoe shop, which was rebranded with a fake frontage to be transformed into ‘Virtual Fashion’.

Now the ex-Hugh Thompson Butchers outlet at the end of King Street, next to Market Place, has been transformed into a ’fake’ male fashion shop, resplendent with images of top-brand clothing.

Until the empty shops are replaced with actual businesses, the plan seems the best way of keeping the street looking vibrant.

Coun Michael Clare, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for regeneration and economy, said: “We thought by using the empty shop windows it would not only enhance their general frontage, but also be a great way of letting shoppers, residents and visitors know about our potential plans.

“We are looking to actively work with the business community to provide them with updated information, and involve them in helping to raise the profile of the campaign.”

Recent closures have included the Flossy shoe shop, Thompsons electrical store and the Bay Biscuit Factory – which had a short rebirth as UKIP headquarters during the by-election.

South Shields 365 will see the creation of a cinema, library and hotel in the town.